Redefining Luxury - what's changed?

Redefining Luxury - what's changed?

Sustainable is the new black

The pandemic has given us plenty of time for reflection, and that includes thinking about the kind of world we want to live in going forward. Working from home for a large percentage of the population has meant moving away from spending time in busy city centres, and the chance to explore and fall in love with their local areas.

Interest in sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint has become much more mainstream than it was a few years ago, and we were curious to see just how much this sentiment has affected your behaviour, especially in the context of whether recent years have had an influence on what you define as ‘luxury’. So, we’ve put it to our panel of mystery diners – and the results may surprise you.

47 luxury

Effects of climate awareness on luxury

Almost half (47%) – a significant proportion – of you feel that being climate aware has influenced your perception of luxury.

Data shows that women feel this sentiment slightly more than men (49% v 42%).

Surprisingly, climate awareness seems to increase with age as only 39% of Gen-Z (18-25) say they’ve reconsidered luxury due to being climate aware, whilst that figure increases to 54% in those of you aged 56-65, and peaks at to 65% within the 66+ category.

Shopping for luxury goods now also comes with environmental remorse, as almost 4 in 5 of diners (77%) say excessive packaging adds an element of guilt, when buying goods; this rings true especially with people over 56, as 85% report feeling guilty about excessive packaging.

Goods vs experiences

Goods v Experiences

A vast majority of you would rather spend money on experiences (83%) rather than goods (17%) - excellent news for the hospitality industry!

Data shows respondents across all age groups think in similar terms, the only exceptions being diners aged 46-55, who are below the median line, with 76% opting for experiences over goods, and those aged over 66, who overwhelmingly (92%) choose to spend on experiences.

From a gender perspective, women tend to value experiences slightly higher than men (respectively, 86% v 79%).

68 prefer informal luxury

Formality v Informality

Traditionally, people imagine luxury being associated with aristocracy, or upper classes - servers in tuxes, gold-rimmed crockery, etc., whereas in recent decades, we’ve seen a shift in wealth and luxury being associated with much more informal elements. It’s hard not to picture a tech magnate in a t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, right? Some luxury lifestyle brands (such as Soho House) have even gone so far as to actively ‘ban stuffiness’, with dress-codes that discourage wearing suits / business dress.

But which do you see as the ‘hallmark of luxury’? The answer is, overwhelmingly, 68% crave informality (friendliness, warmth, and familiarity) in a luxury experience.

Interestingly, people aged 36-55 value ‘formal’ luxury slightly higher than other age groups, with 39% favouring this, in contrast to the average of 32% across all ages. The biggest enthusiasts of ‘informal’ luxury, surprisingly, are aged 56-65, with 78% of the respondents indicating this as their preference.

There is little difference from a gender perspective, with women being slightly more likely to favour ‘informal’ luxury than men (respectively, 69% vs 66%).

Farm shops vs supermarkets

Most sought after: groceries

If money and location convenience were no object, more than a third of you (36%) would choose to get groceries from your local farm shop, which, very surprisingly, is higher than the percentage of those who would choose to shop at a premium grocery store, such as Waitrose or M&S (32%) – which some might consider the pinnacle of grocery shopping.

Almost 1 in 5 consumers (19%) would opt for a premium organic farm shop brand, such as Riverford or Daylesford, and, of course, there are those who like to stick with their tried and tested favourites: 13% of you would choose a mid-level grocery store, such as Sainsbury’s or Tesco.

A demographic analysis shows that the biggest advocates for local farm shops are those aged 26-45, as 41% indicated this as their preference. There was also a larger prevalence to prefer luxury organic farm brands within the 26-45 age group, in contrast to other age groups, as premium organic farm brands were chosen by almost a quarter (24% v 19% average).

Diners from all other age groups (apart from 26-45) displayed a tendency to favour premium supermarket brands, especially the 66+ age group, in which half (50%) chose premium brands as their favourite.

The biggest support for mid-level supermarkets was from those of you within the 56-65 age group at 20% (v average of 13%), and the ones most likely to shun mid-level supermarkets were the in the 66+ age category, where only 4% indicated these as their preference.

From a gender perspective, surprisingly, the responses vary by only a few percent. Women are more likely to prefer local farm shops and premium organic farm shop brands, whereas men are more likely to favour premium grocery store brands.

Michelin experience

Most sought after: food experience

With food experiences, your preferences are much more clear cut than they are with shopping preferences. If money were no object, the vast majority (70%) would treat themselves to a 7-course Michelin star restaurant experience, however, nearly a quarter (22%) would opt to go to their local independent pub or restaurant. It would be very interesting to know what that breakdown would have looked like pre-pandemic!

5% say they would choose either a high-street favourite (like Nando’s / Prezzo, etc.) or an upmarket pub / bar (such as Brewdog), and 3% would choose a street market or food court experience (e.g. Borough Market / Street Feast).

It gets more interesting with the demographic analysis: Gen-Z (18-25) are least interested in the Michelin experience, with only 50% selected this as their preference, which is quite a lot below the average across age groups (68%).

People aged 35-45 are most likely to opt for a Michelin treat, as that figure reaches 82% within the age group. Conversely, because people within the 36-45 age group are favouring Michelin restaurants so highly, they have the lowest percentage of people choosing a local pub or restaurant (10%). All the other age groups are closer to the average percentage of 24%, and local venues are, in particular, favoured within the 56-65 category, where that figure reaches almost a third (29%) of the responses.

Though figures show there's relatively low interest in high street favourites, pub brands and street food markets, if money were no object - but or Gen-Z respondents buck the trend, as 11% prefer high street favourites, and another 11% favour street markets, much higher interest than in any other age groups (the average is respectively 5% and 3%).


Most sought after: overnight experience

When if comes to accommodation, it seems that you're still more likely to embrace traditional luxury: half (50%) of the consumers would prefer an overnight stay at a 5-star hotel or resort; almost a quarter (24%) would choose staying at a luxurious country inn. A tenth (10%) would opt for a cottage rental, and only 8% would prefer to either stay at an ultramodern aparthotel, or to go glamping.

The 46-55 age group are particularly fond (59%) of 5-star hotels, and surprisingly, the 56-65 are group are least likely to select a 5-star hotel (39%); they are much more likely to opt for a luxurious country inn (34%) instead, in contrast to other age groups.

People in the 66+ category are also very fond of country inn stays (35%), and also like the idea of a 5-star hotel (54%), but categorically refuse to go glamping. People aged 18-45 have very similar tastes, much in line with the average results, however, Gen-Z respondents are slightly more inclined to go glamping (17% v average of 8%) than the rest.

Gender comparison is quite revealing: women are more likely to prefer 5-star hotels than men (53% v 40%), whereas men have a higher likelihood than women in opting for a modern aparthotel (13% v 6%) or a cottage rental (13% vs 9%).

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